The times they are a changin’...
Over the last few years, the digital revolution has disrupted pretty much every major industry in the world. Shopping, travel, media and financials are all barely recognisable from where they were 20 years ago. If you need any proof of the pace of change in modern times, just ask the old CEOs of Kodak, Woolworths and Blackberry.
…. just not in the car industry
Yet the automotive industry seems to have largely resisted this tide of change. There’s no shortage of companies with an online presence, but thus far only Autotrader and We Buy Any Car have succeeded in really disrupting the way that British people buy and sell their cars.
Some interesting statistics
It’s not that the digital world hasn’t had an impact. According to a report commissioned by Google, a massive 83% of car buyers now use the internet to research their new car. Although, a maybe more surprising stat from the same report tells us that 89% of car buyers still visit one or more car dealerships as part of the shopping process.
So while we are more than happy to use the internet to inform our search, it appears that most buyers still value the ability to see, touch, smell - and test drive - their car before they buy it.
In this respect, the process of buying a car in the UK has hardly changed in the last 30 years. This wouldn’t be so strange if people were happy with the existing process - but it doesn’t seem that they are.
Have you ever had a car-buying nightmare?
Almost all of our customers at Best Car have a war story to tell us about how painful they’ve found it to work out what car they should buy and what they should pay for it. So we thought it would be fun to pull together a definitive list of...
The top 5 reasons why shopping for cars is still so painful
1. Deals which look too good to be true - and usually are
We hear this one all the time. Websites feature attention-grabbing prices and then when you enquire about the deal, you find out there’s some hidden catch. Either the prices quoted don’t include VAT, or they’re only available if you can put down a massive deposit or (our own personal favourite) the car being sold is not actually the one in the pictures.
It’s not only websites that play these tricks, either. All too often when it comes to talking turkey in a dealership, you suddenly discover that the headline price didn’t include the documentation fee, the delivery fee or the GAP insurance, not all of which are optional extras.
2. The mysterious world of car pricing
Linked to the first point, but slightly different. The dynamics of the automotive industry create a load of inconsistencies in the pricing of vehicles and this makes it almost impossible for buyers to work out whether they’re getting the best deal possible.
One example: dealerships tend to order stock on a quarterly basis and award commission on units sold rather than profit made. As the end of the quarter approaches, the temptation to shift existing stock to make room for the new models can lead them to dramatically reduce pricing.
This can happen at a manufacturer level too: if a manufacturer gets left with surplus stock then they will be prepared to offer price discounts, deposit contributions and various other freebies to try to sell it. Keeping it in storage will only cost them money.
3. Terrible customer service from dealerships
Given how much time it takes to visit multiple dealerships, what particularly grates people is the pitiful customer service they tend to receive there.
We’ve heard stories of customers being left to wait for over half an hour, others being told to come back the next day because the salesman wants to go home and countless instances of people never receiving responses to emails and calls.
It sounds bizarre that car dealerships wouldn’t try to ensure a better level of service once they have a potential customer there in the showroom, but car salespeople tend to be pretty shrewd operators. If they think they’ve got a decent chance of selling you a car, they will pay you attention. If they think you’re just browsing, they will focus their attention elsewhere.
4. Aggressive sales tactics from dealerships
Precisely because car salespeople are such shrewd operators, if they think they’ve got a chance of landing a sale, they tend to try whatever tactic they can to get you over the line. Their sales commission is at stake here, so don’t expect them to have your best interests at heart.
We’ve lost count of the stories we’ve heard about salespeople saying that an offer is only available for that day, that they can only do the deal before the boss gets back tomorrow, that it’s their birthday and they’re feeling generous - the list goes on.
The fact is that if a deal is available today, it’s most probably going to be there tomorrow. If it feels like someone is trying to pressure you into a sale, they probably are. And a car is too important a decision to be pressured into.
5. Information overload
The last of our top 5 things that people hate about shopping for cars is the dizzying array of data that is now available to read, watch and listen to.
If you are someone who lives and breathes cars, you thrive on this surfeit of information. But if you are more like the average car shopper, it can be pretty overwhelming:
- Where do I start?
Who do I believe?
- Exactly how much do I need to understand about torque, BHP and “g/km” measurements?
For most people in the UK, a car is the second biggest financial decision they make and the average person only changes their car every 4 years. So every 4 years, we try to become an expert in a complex subject matter in order to make a really important financial decision. Once you put it like that, suddenly it becomes clear why it makes sense to rely on the help of an expert.
This is exactly why we created BestCarForMyBudget.com
We wanted to demystify the car market and make the process of shopping for your new car really easy (and maybe even a bit fun). We do include some technical data on the website but try not to flood you with information.
And our team of experts is ready to answer any questions you might have about torque, BHP and g/km. (They’re also pretty good on more prosaic matters like boot space, sat nav and heated seats.)
Their sole goal is to find you the best car for your budget - and then get it delivered to your door, without you having to set foot in a dealership. And they promise not to use any pressure tactics...
To speak to one of our car experts submit an enquiry through the website today or call us on 0114 478 8600 any time between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.